New Communities in Washington DC?!

We are constantly guessing when and what type of events we should be organizing in order to spark the new communities movement. This time we clearly guessed right.

Triple Threat organizing discussion groups

Triple Threat organizing discussion groups

We had about 70 people at this quickly organized event.  We crowded the Keep with enthusiastic and chatty folks. Many were experienced community people but for most of the group this was relatively new stuff.

John Keep describes his collective house and their trajectory towards income sharing

John Keep describes his collective house and their trajectory towards income sharing

Lovely food and engaging conversation were had. After GPaul did a wild and woolly version of open space technology, we broke into working groups talking about:

I was in the healing discussion group which was held in part in an empty Jacuzzi tub.

There were a lot of people richly chatting in the Keep kitchen

There were a lot of people richly chatting in the Keep kitchen

It was a lovely warm up for our content in NYC this coming weekend, the Community Matchmaking (see Facebook Invite) event. Here is the evolving program for that event, being held at the Brooklyn Free School.

GPaul at the helm

GPaul at the helm

All photos by Dragon

Pack Lightly

There were a few moments in planning for the upcoming PANYC trip that it looked like we were going to have very little space for luggage.  “Let’s all travel light,” I suggested.  “I can pack less than you,” Triple Threat said in that reckless manner she has.  Except she can’t.

My current plan is to bring nothing.

no baggage

Yes, I will have the one change of clothes on my back and carry a cell phone charger and toothbrush in my pocket- but I can do a week long trip in another city without a backpack or suitcase.  In fact it is almost my preference.

You might say “But don’t you want a change of clothes?”  Sure, that would be nice, and I have lots of generous friends (as almost everyone does) who are willing to put up with my slightly strange behavior so I will tell stories and do their dishes.  Many of them feel good about sharing their stuff- no one ever asks, so they don’t get a chance to show up in this way.  A few years back I made a New Years resolution to travel without luggage, though I could not pull it off consistently.  But in a pinch, no problem.

Trip never had a chance.

Which words can we still use? Commune? Communism?

There are all manner of messages which we want to get out to the world and recently myself and my comrades working on the Point A project have been thinking about what messages people are ready for.

Anarchist_Communist_Flag_by_TapiocaDeath

These messages, perhaps?

On our most recent NYC trip we realized that we were making it sound harder than it really is to become income sharing.  “They don’t need to have a cottage industry.” GPaul said, “They don’t even need to live together.”

Indeed, the only thing which stops people from becoming income sharing is a lack of trust.  If you trust each other, you can change your agreements and begin taking care of more needs cooperatively almost immediately.

We started thinking about a workshop that would explain this. But what do we label the workshop?

I wanted to call the workshop “You can become income sharing now!” But GPaul and others thought it was not compelling enough or it was too abstract.  GPaul even questioned whether people would know what income sharing is. GPaul’s rework was “Communism Now! Why wait for the revolution?”  Alarm bells went off in my brain.

Can we reclaim this damaged name?

Can we reclaim this damaged name?

I wrote GPaul:
Communism is dead.  Sorry, it is a political non-starter, worse than anarchism actually (tho not as bad as Stalinism and Fascism).  Many progressives and almost all liberals do not associate it with a quasi-utopian desirable state.
Nothing jumps to mind to salvage the title, since I get your meaning and there is not an obvious substitute (Utopia Now!, Equality Now! Community Now! all don’t work).
In his provocative way GPaul replied:

I both agree and disagree: Communism is dead to some people, perhaps even most people, but communism is not dead.  The question here is “who is our audience?”.    We have many possible audiences.  One audience could be radical leftists.  When giving tours and explaining the communes to folks I’ve been leading with “anarchism” and “communism” for years and getting surprisingly little shock or pushback.  Radical leftists are one demographic that is more likely than others to be interested in what we are offering.  We can aim a workshop at them.  They will respond differently to the word “communism” than other people.  For other people we might have to rebrand this workshop.  For other people this might not even be an appropriate workshop (we might have to begin with “why should you want to share income?” in any of its various permutations).

I remain skeptical, but I am curious what my readers think. you say commie like it is a bad thing Some readers will be glad to hear that this blog is finally getting reorganized.  Specifically, the portion of the blog which is about community life (including the Point A work, the Virginia egalitarian communities, Freedonia and other underground efforts, Commune Snapshots [images with few words], the Communities Conference and advances in sharing techniques) may be spun off and turned into its own blog with its own domain name.

I was thinking of the name CommuneLife.org – but other experienced communards thought the name “commune” was too dated, too distant and too misunderstood and untrusted.  When we talked to twenty somethings, they had no baggage around the word commune and thought it might be cool.  The Fellowship of Intentional Communities actually uses the word commune as a name for income sharing communities and lists 166 of them under this category.

Again, feel encouraged to weigh in and discuss your thoughts about this.

Birthing Communities: Pending events in DC and NYCKeep

As regular readers of this blog know, we are trying to start urban based income sharing communities in cities in the Northeastern US, specifically NYC, Washington DC, Baltimore and Richmond VA.  We have different strategies in all these towns and friendly competition between the organizers as to what the best approach is to get these new communities off the ground.

In NYC, where we knew fewer people who were interested in this lifestyle, we have been doing public events for the last year.  We have one coming up the weekend after this one called Community Matchmaking.  Please consider coming if you are excited about intentional community in the NYC area.

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In Washington we have a group of people who are willing to seriously investigate this style of living.  Cities make things more complex and for the last year this DC group has been working on its agreements, strengthening its social fabric and doing the first round of recruiting to people inside our networks.  DC is now ready to step up its outreach efforts and is having its first public outreach effort on March 24th.  If you are in the Washington DC area and have a strong interest in intentional communities, this is certainly the place to be.  Dinner and introductions start at 6PM.

Next Stop DC

What you should know about this ambitious DC group:

  • The plan is to launch this new community within a year.
  • There are 6 to 8 people planning on being income sharing members and another dozen and a half who are considering it.
  • Most of these folks are currently living in group houses in the DC area.

The event on Tuesday is reaching out to people with collective living experience.  Later events will focus differently and reach out to different audiences.  Do you find collective living enriching and strengthening?  Want to talk about ways to make collective living a lifelong option for more people rather than the transitional living situation that it so often is?  Want to talk about ways to accentuate the positive and ameliorate the negative of living with a bunch of people in close community?  Come out on Tuesday and join the discussion!

The most important state action this year

paxus:

If you read this blog you will not be surprised to here that nuclear power makes no sense economically. You will not be surprised to hear that nuclear utilities have tremendous power over state legislatures because of all the money they have. What you might not be aware of it the future of un-economic nuclear subsidies is up for grabs for the biggest nuclear utility in the country, which is trying to stop real renewables from taking off by demanding bail outs from ratepayers and tax payers. If you know anyone in Illinois now is the time to act. If this legislation goes through, uneconomic reactors will be allowed to continue to operate and wind and solar power will not be permitted to grow as the market dictates they should.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Exelon has raised the stakes. It's time to take them on. And win. Exelon has raised the stakes. It’s time to take them on. And win.

Today NIRS and our colleagues at Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) in Chicago kicked off the most important state-level action we’ll be doing all year: taking on Exelon’s full-court press for a bailout of its aging, uneconomic nuclear fleet in Illinois.

If you’re in Illinois, tell your legislators to reject Exelon’s proposed bailout legislation and instead to support the Clean Jobs Act, which would encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency.

If you’re not in Illinois, but know someone who is, send them this article, or the link to the NIRS’ action page. Or you can send them the Alert we sent out today to people in Illinois.

Exelon is spending millions on campaign contributions and other lobbying efforts to force Illinois residents to pay more for their electricity in order to prop up Exelon’s failed reactors.

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When the Acute needs to be treated as Chronic

Crow screwed up.  They recently acted out in a way that had made people feel uncomfortable and some even unsafe.  It could have been any of a number of kinds of things:  An intoxicated incident, a minor consent violation, a petty crime, even an especially poor choice of guest.  The specifics don’t matter.  Crow knew that they had created a problem for themselves with Acorn and they were coming to me for advice.  What could they do to make things better?  How could they mend their frayed relationships with other members? At Acorn this answer is easy, you do what we regularly do, you have a clearness.

flying transformative person

And it turns out that this is a very good thing.  Many communities have self care mechanisms that feel punitive.  As i have written, the Feedback system at Twin Oaks very often feels punishing, even though it often need not.

But because Acorn does regular individual clearnesses, adding another one to normal rotation almost always feels accessible.  The clearness format is the same as a routine clearness (meetings with each individual member, checking in about their experiences of each other, and then a group clearness which summarizes all the individual clearnesses).

feedback_arrows_logo

The lesson is clear here.  When you are designing self corrective systems within a community, you need to consider how they feel to the users.  It is not enough to insure the community is taken care of, these systems need to feel non coercive to the members who are going through them.  The best way to have that effect is to have a familiar and non-threatening group communication facilitating tool.  I think the clearness process is one of the better ones.

A week later i talked with Crow.  They had done a bunch of clearnesses and felt much better about their connection to the community. They felt better understood.

Clearness Directions

The most common complaint about community clearnesses is that they take a lot of time.  “Do i really have to talk to everyone else in the community one-on-one?”  Only if you want there to be cohesion in your community.  Only if you want to be able to fix significant mistakes people make and successfully rebound from it.  You only need to do this if you want a healthy community.

For many people this is too much work and i think this is central to why so many communities fail.

Commune Snapshot – Acorn edition

Yes, we have a pet cow, called Pandora

Yes, Acorn has a pet cow, called Pandora. Though she is most frequently referred to simply as “Cow.”  These friends include Dragon, Falcon, Mac and Rejoice.

This chalk board elephant is being used to develop a new language at Acorn

This chalk board elephant is being used to develop a new language at Acorn

Falcon and Irena picking orders at Southern Exposure

An alternating text and picture game we play

Exquisite Corpse: An alternating text and picture game we play

Canoe in a truck

Stephanie and Elan off to places which don’t require seat belts

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